EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

.....64 Intention...................................................................60 Have Your Cake and Eat It................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................98 The Pornographic Wasp.........................108 The Reciprocal Universe............................................................................................................27 Everest..................93 The Blame Trap.....................................135 What do You Want to do?..35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option...126 Waterfall.......................................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good........................................47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support...........114 There is No Land Rover...............7 Be Nice...................68 Looking Out............................................................................................118 They Laughed at Lowry.......140 Who am I to be a Success?............................................................................75 Night-travellers......9 Carp Fishing.........153 .....14 Catching Crabs .............................................................................................................18 Change Chaser.......131 We Are All Dying...............Contents Foreword................................80 Reciprocal Returns............................................................................................................................................................... Looking In...........................................................23 Easy......................................................41 Goals.................................86 The Art of Restriction...................................103 The Power of Books............122 Time..........83 Suffering..............................149 You Are What You Ingest...................................................................................................................................................

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) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. I hope this proves to be just that. (And whatever you do. Geoff Thompson 7 . don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work. magazines and my website. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch. quick read.Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films.

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‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had.’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. How bizarre. There is a massive profit in being nice. not because it is sweet. 9 . And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business. as long as you are not being nice for profit. The poem went. rather because it is true.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me.

about morals. Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. and dedication. made it and squandered it. lost it. I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. the art of making a living. about profit and loss. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. The books have all been enlightening. Some quoted great sages. innovation. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. made it and given it all away. courage in business. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. Nobody does 10 . People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. from theology to philosophy and law. speculation. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). Simply be nice. about ethics. lost it and made it back again. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. The business world can often be a very difficult. risk taking. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. It is not hard. cynical environment.

most inspiring people in my world are all nice.BE NICE anything for nothing. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. Paul Abbot. both with his time and his advice. I have a friend. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . Clocking Off. He is also an extremely generous man. What you give out always returns. But of course this is not true. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. Always. who is an incredibly successful writer. They are all generous. It is the law. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. People are throwing work at him. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. You’d be wrong. There is no such thing as a free lunch. his work ethic even more so. His work is amazing. He is a dynamo. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. most attractive. State of Play. He never stops being nice. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. The best. For those who don’t know him. He never stops giving.

often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. Similarly. The effect is amazing. even create work for them. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. people will go out of their way to find. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. Glenn is thriving in business and life. as is Paul. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. If they are nice.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. or offer them anything other than gratitude. struggling writers. people will help them tighten their game. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. And I am not talking 12 . Ultimately.

BE NICE about pseudo-nice. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth. There is no profit in being nice. (Business types often mistake nice for weak. 13 . I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. People like it when you are nice. Being nice because it helps others. unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules. it will only find permanent abode with those who do. nice for the effect. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. I am only talking about the genuine article. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie.) But I would argue that if you are not nice. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom. nice to fit in or even nice to impress.

Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. of which Edinburgh was but one.Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. As you can imagine 14 . As well as the tour. the teaching. and the heavy travelling schedule.

The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. tapes and 15 . my success. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. my profile. I was becoming anxious and angry.CARP FISHING I was stretched. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. until fate intervened. In fact. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. Peter has always been a mentor to me. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. Someone – disgruntled by my work. in fact. But I was handling it OK. that is. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge.

started taking medication. ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. his family. dumfounded. it’s not war in the Middle East. had actually become his whole world. his life. Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. his home. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships. It’s not cancer. nay ruined. Just before one of the major championships. he was accused of using illegal bait. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. ‘Geoff. Peter listened intently. it’s not starving children in Africa. it had become everything.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. thought to himself. ‘It’s just carp fishing. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. split up with his wife and even lost his home. 16 . It’s carp fishing. what had started out as a gentle pastime. Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). It was more important to him than his wife.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed.

and what has stayed with me ever since.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. an individual. was just carp fishing. His father said.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. about not letting things become bigger than they really are. His father asked him. It was an opinion. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective. and a few letters. ‘It’s one man. It’s not life and death. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable. As Peter said to me. 17 . while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. Geoff.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. and as we should all know. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. far from being important.

Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. in no time at all. yet still they didn’t try to escape. What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and. even when the fishermen removed the lid. not them kind). 18 . rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. I watched in awe as these leathery-faced. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. After a few minutes it became clear to me why.

(In fact. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here. It’s safe.’ came the usual response. ‘Oh about thirty years. went straight to work. I’d been there six years. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling.’ he said without hesitation. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.’ I’d whine. like the crabs. ‘I hate the place. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. The old guy. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly. claws raised. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory. face like a walnut. ‘This is a steady job. on the offensive. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. The old crab. 19 . her face turned rolled-in-flour white. my peers.’ Similarly. ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes. thought for a second.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. had pulled me back again. tired of the unchanging replies.

‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. 20-years on. I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. three children. I noticed that. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try. a cat and a Raleigh Racer. a mortgage. after being pulled back a few times. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind. HP payments.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. I had a family. Even today.

told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. leave the city. She retracted her claws. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. I nearly fell over with the shock. She gave me her permission. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five. even leave the country for that matter. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. if I really wanted to leave the factory. even mountains would crumble. But. Then one night. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. my wife did something unprecedented.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. 21 . I convinced myself. She wasn’t holding me back at all. Well. it wasn’t my fault. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. If I put my heart and soul into doing something. The fault was entirely mine. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers.

Me. so many places to go. 22 . I snatched back my free will. So much to do. This was my world. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. I could and would handle it. exciting and scary. I could be anything. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory. I made a decision. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. my incarnation. It was brilliant.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. I have never looked back. I climbed out of the basket.

‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. You will get what you steadfastly wish for. To me. That price tag is change. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it. at the time.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. even if. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them. I 23 . I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. but getting what you want comes with a price tag.

This change can cause temporary. on looking through. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. the out-worn. a complete change of who you are. even permanent disorientation. the worn-out and the redundant. Change chasers are the leaders of this world. Only very few people in society really get this. Death of the old. go out and. rather than run from the change. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most.’ In other words.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. He said that we should. ‘Be the change we want to see. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . face it and chase it. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because.

birth of the new. bang on our bag gloves. if you are the change. If you can be the change. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. So you have a choice. Death of the old. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. God’s great gift to mankind. you de-fang it. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. it just as certainly means birth. an exciting and empowering third option. 25 . Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. we see the birth of the butterfly. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. offers us a choice. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. But our free will. be the change. to garner our courage and be the constant. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. It is the only constant. only our resistance to it. if you live the change. The good news is that whilst change might mean death. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. You can’t have one without the other.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now. What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge. 26 .

Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand. Writing is easy. but then everything is easy in hypothesis. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job. It’s easy. ‘he writes all day. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days. 27 . I love it. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. But easy? I don’t think so.’ Really? Writing is my passion. It is what I do. I write films for a living.’ they say.

Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. ‘It happened so quickly. Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. My first film went into production in January 2007. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. This is important. It hurt. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. Everyone said. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. of course. It 28 . ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin. (I’ll fucking show you.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. In this industry that is not unusual. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. People said. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same.

29 . No one wanted to make it. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. had been done before. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. The film that won the BAFTA. No one has it easy. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. Life is difficult. too harsh. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. I loved it. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. of course. so we (the producer. the producer and Neil Thompson. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. It was too bleak. but… I liked it. It weathered me like an old oak. and I) financed it ourselves. I developed an iron resolve. All the rebuttals. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr. the director) over two million pounds in finance. No one thought it was good enough to finance. Natasha Carlish. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars. I could go on but I think the point it clear.

He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased. behind the times. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water.Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me. judgmental and a bastard to boot. He was in bits. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting. I knew the feeling.’ 30 .

despite his set-back. 31 . not least film-making. rebuttal comes with the everyday post).EVEREST This knock-back. had all but floored him. My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. after all. in shape and filmable. he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. With a slight change in perception. It can be soul destroying. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. but you can’t by-pass it. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. Adversity and advance are synonymous and. It is tough at the high end of any business. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. He felt his work was ready. His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. where millions are lost on bad films. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet).

This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people. What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. that is. he could run a fast marathon. His training was good. on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. at base camp. he never really heeded the council.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult. meticulous even. Until. 32 . To make his dream a reality. Now. He thought that this would be enough.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase.

’ Again. it’s a good day’). The higher you go the less there is. ‘Look.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. I should be able to breathe easier. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain.EVEREST He complained to his companions. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it. all experienced climbers. ‘you don’t understand. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. when you are on the mountain. It’s a high mountain. this is the norm. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. I’m a fit man.’ he insisted. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). There is no air.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 .’ And here endeth the lesson. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him. ‘There is very little air on the mountain. that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that. ‘No. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. I am conditioned. he complained. I need to hear it sometimes. He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. He was fit.

the inadequate industry support. the lack of help. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. complaining about the discomfort. Then I remind myself of this story. then so be it. 34 . And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). back on my feet and moving. It always gets me psyched up.

He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me.’ Another friend. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity). tilted a similar lance in my direction. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. He has had it so easy. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke.) I. family issues. a fellow writer. he lives a charmed life.Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. on the other hand. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. etc. 35 . so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. It was an even longer night.’ It was a long day. He was a good man. My lovely dad died recently. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. He was loved by many. It found its way into his bones. how to die with dignity. it is cause for celebration. And that is not just good. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me.m. It was good. He was right. phone call and my heavy heart bled. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. My dad lived a good life. He had cancer. how to live bravely. 36 . disliked by none. Then he died. I got the five a. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. Let me try and explain. They were all right.

My brother died violently.’ I trusted that this was true and it was. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. It was not 37 . not her sisters. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. She recovered. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. of course. well. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. not her mum – could break her out. so much so that the love affair killed him. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and. She is now happy and training to be a teacher. you can guess the rest.’ I said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. it was not me he called out for. but what happened to my daughter was good. I loved his very bones. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. When she lay in that hospital bed. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out. When he died. There was more to it than that.

It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. nor my dad’s. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. What is happening obviously needs to happen. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. 38 . It was difficult. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. everything I write about and everything I think. It is her life. But it was good. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. I loved him.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. That is ultimately where we are all heading. They will (they have and will again) save others. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. For that reason alone. It is her soul. It is her body. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. My brother’s death was good. The illness is self-inflicted. It is her story. He cried out the name of his drinking companion.

My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. No self-pity here. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. more beautiful place. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. self-hate. We all have to atone. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. No regrets. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. It was all good. mentally and spiritually. It has been hard to forgive myself. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. guilt. So it has all been good. betrayed my ex-wife. Each of these. lost my integrity. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. 39 . physically. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. I also fucked around. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. stole. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. self-harm and illness. however. Very good. a better. Much of it does not make easy reading. especially my back-story. The pre-fight.

‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. And when folks say. I do.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. Everything that happens to me is. neither will I complain because it will all be good. so profound. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. It does have a habit of providing the hammer. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness. Because I know they’re right. Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. I will continue to drink my tea. 40 . So.’ I will continue to smile. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful. he’s got it so easy.

Instead I 41 . Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. Though. because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates. do you think. I admit.

It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. but I’ll never 42 . Where I once toiled for shallow. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. sinewy mentality. lifting heavy weights. And yet when we examine the world in which we live. but very few actually putting it into practise. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul. Oh. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. surface mastery – hitting hard. looking good. ‘I’ll forgive you. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. when we closely examine our own lives.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag.

but you don’t know what she did to me.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. To forgive! Now then. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. a physiological fight-or-flight.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. ‘Yea. It is not virtuous. that’s a horse of a different colour. You either do or you do not. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. as though it were a great virtue. There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. It takes strength. Holding a grudge is easy. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 . discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology. I can’t forgive her. You can do it without even trying.

therefore. and you have a recipe for disaster. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. as though for the very first time. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. under those circumstances. bladder and bowel. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. We do not. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t. intestines. lungs. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. your body actually relives them too. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. if you like. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones. But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart. who you haven’t forgiven. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated. a saber-toothed tiger. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 . even death. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness).

Forgive 45 . I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. In my experience. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health. I held many grudges.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. Forgiveness needs to be localised. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. I often bragged to others that. and for several years. ‘I will never forgive. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. what I was letting others do to me. or more specifically. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. working as a nightclub bouncer. In my younger days. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them. I also felt empowered. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart.

As far as health and fitness is concerned. start with a little forgiveness. What ever they are. forgive yourself and move on. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw. Start with yourself. forgiveness is cathartic. 46 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. So if you want to stay fit for life. We all have skeletons in our closets.

neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. 47 . each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact. the library. People want success but they don’t know what in. however.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. the staff. what they thought of the campus. I always find myself asking. I admire those that aim for the top. about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation.

their relationships. In fact. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. even disturbing. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. ‘If you have goals. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. But not enough to write home to mum about. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. between them 48 . It was agreed. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. The four per cent were also financially independent. What was interesting. even disappointing.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. in their community and financial affairs. you’ll probably agree. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. in their health. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. Interesting. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. life itself) was posed. This time.

If you don’t have them. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . commitment and sacrifice. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. you don’t get them. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. And they are right. it is fundamental.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. risk. And I am not necessarily talking about money. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. You need a definite destination. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. but about time. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. It makes them official. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins.

for instance. To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. He is in fabulous physical shape. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. You have to get your eating down to a fine art. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. But very few make it because the journey 50 . if necessary). Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror. or the port of beer-and-curry. You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. They don’t want to pay the price.

’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . working on the finer points and setting the right course. back where they started. Next on the course is the training. or even worse. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. It’s about the detail. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. I know a million people that workout. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. Setting the right course It is easy to say. Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. making all the right noises. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination.GOALS is too arduous.

I got it. presto. He knew the right course. but I was practising it wrong. In fact. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands. And hey. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). Consequently. to destruction in fact. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. He looked at my technique and. those who are already where you want to be. Never mistake activity for progress. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . when I sparred with other players. he altered my entire course. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. The destination was set. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. we’ve established this much. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. I reached my goal in record time. You could be the hardest worker in the world. in altering one or two minor points. but my course was off. The danger of goals Goals are essential. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. If you don’t know the way. ask the right people. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal. I rarely pulled the throw off. I practised hard and daily.

53 . By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. My friend Steve is a keen runner. If I try for more. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. I think you’ll agree. Steve was unsure. Dave. we hit low. I know I can do five. He asked Steve to take his place. Sometimes we aim low and. I might not make it. The other day he went out for a jog. He set himself a goal of five miles. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted. The next week. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. He didn’t think he could run ten miles.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. ‘But. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. ‘I’m being realistic. but a common attitude nevertheless. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. one of his friends at the running club. He was capable of more.’ he always told me. When we set goals. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. we nearly always do. guess what. it was double his usual distance.

So aim higher than you think you can manage. ‘just set your sights on ten. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. but not so high you lose sight of your goal.’ Dave said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great.’ Steve ran the race. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied. Paradoxically.’ said his friends. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . ‘Watch this space. I would say. He is now preparing for his first marathon. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed. ‘Impossible. If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour.

you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. Eventually. By picking up the bull as it grew. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. rather it might be your business. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. It could be anything. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. a college degree or a promotion at work. Like Milo. For Milo. His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. Day by day. It isn’t always advisable to try. build your business or increase your fitness level. as the calf matured and fattened. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. Instead. he grew with the bull. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 .

When they get within reach of the top they rest. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. they attempt the peak. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. I’m not saying that this is the only way. Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. then step by step. they scale to the summit of the mountain. If conditions are favourable. acclimatise. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. They make their way first to a base camp. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. acclimatise and then. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. They buy a small house. when the weather is clement. eat. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. They set themselves daily goals. Others thrive on it. It is all done in pyramidic steps. It can be done. You can jump steps. climb up more than one rung at a time. 56 . Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals.

a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals. the weight fell off him. the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. as you might imagine. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. As the dinner sizes decreased.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. the tenacity. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas. The real value of setting goals is not. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. My mum. the discipline. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. worried about his health. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way.

the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. their dream. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. On the journey. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. flying monkeys. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. 58 . Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. free of charge. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. But he doesn’t. Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. symbols of their courageous quest. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. in actuality they have. He can’t.

I don’t ask myself. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. nothing is beyond us. we all can. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get. long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. When I look at my lofty. 59 .GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. I can have anything. Rather I ask myself. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. Whatever your goal. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. mountains will move and rivers will part.

Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. a loss. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. our health and the love and health of those dear to us. all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us. 60 . depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives.

One ounce of prevention. Deepak Chopra. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. after all. It would be unwise 61 . even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. from four until six a.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. This is how great people achieve great things. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude. They start their day not by asking for more.m. is better than a pound of cure. mentally and physically – for the day.). We all need a bit of invisible support. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer.

What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). and it is. less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. But if you were to start now. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . They say that pain is a good advisor. being more patient. while the idea is fresh in your mind. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. insight. destined-to-arrive tomorrow. however. It takes discipline. you. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). they (me. You might. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered.

63 .GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). ‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’). we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing. Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again. likely with the promise that.

I have tried all the fad diets. And they all work… but only for a while. after a two-week holiday in Florida. Now I don’t know about you. isn’t it? 64 . to the size of a small continent.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. It’s depressing. but as a man with the propensity to grow. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation. I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt.

I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. My food-abuse period was over. my legs start going all Sumo. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. weight gain. though. From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. I take every opportunity 65 . Then I hit 30. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. sometimes even longer. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. In fact. I can be good for months at a time. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes.

however. When the weight is on. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. a dark cloud descends on my day. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. A man needs his strength after all. rationalisation. And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). I have tried them all. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. take-away curries.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). When I’m thin. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. wine. As I said. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. And the apparel changes accordingly.

I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. but not all of what you want. and you can never let up. hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven.’ 67 . In the meantime. Have some of what you want. Geoffrey. It’s difficult. but it works. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life.

’ The truth is neither. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe. We are creators of denial. When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 . fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. This is both exciting and terrifying. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells.

if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. Those that take responsibility 69 . to blame. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game. if you blame the government. If you blame God. anyone. your country.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. Similarly. They blame no one. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering. society. city or town. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. You always become a prisoner of those you blame.

before I accepted responsibility. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. So how do you practise intention? 70 . I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. I resided consecutively. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. I could learn from my own experience. in both worlds. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. In my time I have created health. I wasn’t exactly sure how. And that is what I did. That made my reality very unpredictable. whilst at the same time creating violence. sometimes concurrently. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. wealth. It was at this point that I got very scared. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. illness. Personally. And it was at this point that I got very excited.

and the Tao Te Ching. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. if you desire. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. with study and diligence. the Koran. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. I watched judo. Not just your own intention. What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. Search out the truth from another source. I actually lived and breathed judo. until I could close my eyes and feel them. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. until I was 71 . I talked judo. But more than anything else I practised judo. it is in the Bhagavad-gita. It is in the Bible. I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert.

72 . then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. they see and fear illness. hearing it. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health. read it. then I do the same thing. If you make it your life. For me. If you are a weekend player. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?). If you practise four or five times a week. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. you will get weekend results. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. or the opportunities to make it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. Buy the books (my book. If it is wealth I am after. they talk it. into my life. intention is about everything I do. you’ll start to see some decent movement. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. any of Deepak Chopra’s works. The Elephant and the Twig. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. They think illness. reading it. Intention is no different. You start by investing in the information and instruction.

He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 . She had no tumour. There was nothing physically wrong with her. Then she had a thought. Interestingly. how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. the sight in her left eye returned. It wasn’t always that way. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness. She thought about it all day long. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. The scan was clear. sometimes months at a time. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. as soon as she got the results. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman. in a short time. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. She is at the top of her field. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until.

Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. hearing. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. the process is the same.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. seeing. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. and doing involves thinking. Intention is a very learnable technique. You practise by doing. He was earning $20 million. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. He was wrong. you can become an authority. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. Why not try? 74 . feeling. And if you intend enough. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest.

Looking In Another marathon. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge. how very fucking invigorating. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. another gruelling. But how brave are we? 75 . another black belt. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. We get a pat on the back. a trophy. The elements are conquered. How brave. how exciting. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. a medal. physically-stretching. It’s good to be brave. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration.Chapter 13 Looking Out.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

I forgive them. you have to face them and say. 79 . LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. That’s a mountain to climb. but it gets even harder. I don’t understand you. But if you really want peace. ‘I forgive you. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). I let them go. stop working out and start working in. I let me (all of me) go. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye. Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for.LOOKING OUT.’ That’s difficult.

Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him.Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him. The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. In fact. he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). This means that we avoid fear at all costs. Paul Abbot. he said it was fear.

people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. which means we stop growing. So.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. It is not that these people do not feel fear. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold. It is only that they change their perception of fear. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears. creep up on it. take a step towards it. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark. They feel it just the same. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. The people who see red lights as green.

And when the fear rears its ugly head. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst. Be brazen. Fear feeds on your terror. Courage is the killer of weeds like fear. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. Start now.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. Make the decision. Be brave. When you stand and endure. Be a night-traveller! 82 . It is nourished by those who turn and run.

He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. To be frank. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . I could tell by his face (dispirited). Not only was he getting tapped out. defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. he was completely out of his depth. and very fit.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. maybe 22. his gait (shoulders hunched. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. I wasn’t sure.

‘Oh. He was training recreationally and expecting professional results. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. I see the same attitude in all walks of life. these guys are training twice a day. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue.000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled. Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. ‘Well that’s your problem. ‘You are training twice a week. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked.’ I told him.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. Without fail.

banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. profit without investment and reward without risk. This is good news and bad. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. or shut up! 85 .RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in. The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. The returns are entirely reciprocal. People want gain without pain. And its mandate is very clear: Step up. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns.

maybe one century if I am blessed. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. then I at least want to make sense of it. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. a premise. if my suffering is unavoidable. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. a sentence. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. We can all endure suffering if we know why. 86 . an idea. something – a word.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. If I can’t do this. I want my suffering to be for a reason. a medicine.

I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). Outside. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. or worse still. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. but back to Coventry. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. Deeper still. back to my house. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. sex. left my country. I (like most) left my city. From my limited understanding. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. drugs. my garden. There is no joy and little 87 . Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. Every time I go out I am directed back in. Go inside. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. my body. in books or conversations with gurus. drink. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. there are two kinds of suffering. we should (if at all possible) eradicate. That never knowing could kill us.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge.

do a degree.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. If your suffering is health related. if you own everything. make us envious. under-educated. To stop this kind of suffering. perhaps because we do not know any better. Become an expert. fat or unfit. become the most 88 . find out how to get well and stay well. make us jealous. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. poor. depressed. a PHD. we become their prisoners. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self. If you are really honest. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. greedy. The responsibility for my health. not with the government and certainly not with other people. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. The responsibility lies with you. disappoint us. angry. no one can let us down. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. No one can offend us. no one can abandon us. cheat us. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. we need clinical self-honesty. an MA. most of your suffering will end.

invest in books. There are no more heroes. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. Scour the internet. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. These options are open to everyone. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. The information is all out there. lectures and courses. If your suffering is mental. In fact. ask them their secrets. Study economics. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. much of it free. put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. But information will not drop out of the sky. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. So get out there. It has been done. You need to hunt it down. earn your worth and ease your suffering. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. History is brimming 89 . It can be done. If your suffering is economic. Don’t blame any outside forces. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. Talk to the psychologically robust.

When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside.. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said.’ 90 . In fact.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering. I am boiling you to make you sweet.m. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. But if I can’t get out of it immediately. that is. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. ‘You think I’m torturing you. but have become massively successful at the same time. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him). I am going to learn as much from it as I can. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot. I’m not.

Do not turn away. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. until you get it. In these circumstances. leave your suffering behind. Address it. Suffering is wise counsel. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. then the 91 . But heed the advise on offer. my recommendation is that you take it. Do what is necessary. change and adapt. to sit in it and examine it minutely.SUFFERING When we are suffering. make decisions. If you don’t. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. they offer you great secrets. Your suffering wants you to see something. If there is a way out. Sometimes you can’t. Pain is a great adviser. Frankl suggests doing something radical. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. but leave it behind. The answer is always hidden within the problem. Right now if you can. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. You must be worthy of your suffering. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. Take responsibility. if you are brave enough to do that. If you go into your pain. It is an opportunity offered to few people. we all tend to look for an escape. again and again. Handle it.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). No one can help you with this. you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe. 92 . Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence. It’s up to you. Once you take responsibility for yourself.

because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre. I specialised in punching. pugilism suited me. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet. This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. the fight always ended up very close and personal. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. culturally.

even the most restrictive. And then there was 94 . To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat. kneeling positions.). I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. chair. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. tension and stiffness completely impede any power.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. etc. And you do. a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. Very quickly. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. from on their backs. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. Because of restriction of movement and space. their bellies. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth.’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique. When you have no range of movement.

It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method.’ the Japanese ‘qui.’ It has as many names as there are cultures. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered. The Chinese call it ‘chi. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident. Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. people become big hitters much faster than normal. You realise very quickly that intent of power is power. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. it also acts as an accelerator. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class. an indefinable energy. Just as restriction can trigger 95 .

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the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96

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Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.

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Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. circumstance or your upbringing. of course. one I used (to death) as a younger man. People are forever telling me that they would love to write. their environment. you give her all your power. you’re stuck where you are. That means that until she says yes. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. If you blame the environment. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. is very subjective. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. to garden. the kids. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success. That’s when you find yourself thinking. to sculpt. Success. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. This very statement.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. you 99 . their wife. the mortgage. or to teach but they can’t because their life. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday.

‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job. blame and self-pity. ‘The money!’ 100 . makes all those you love happy also. again.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. you’re glued to mediocrity. As a fledgling. You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. of course. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. then by definition you are exactly that. and by extension. then you have to ask yourself. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. I hated my lot but. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. until they favour you. Think about the job you do for one moment. it means that. And. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless).

‘Yea. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. unpredictable definitely. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. it has to be hard.’ you might say. I hated it to pieces. I want to be out there experiencing everything. let’s keep things in perspective here. I love being me. But I like unconventional.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). I agree. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge.’ Of course it’s hard. even out of my depth. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me. for sure. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. I like being scared. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. It wasn’t always this way. working your brain into mush 101 . You see. My working life is unconventional certainly. but please. I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. I love being overwhelmed.

) If we don’t like it.’ 102 . you are right.’ We are where we are in life through choice. It’s what we do on a daily basis. We all know about hard. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are. especially the ones you despise. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things. when you are hacking away in the right jungle. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. At least when your sweat is vocational. (Oh yes we are.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H. Any job. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right).

I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . I have a confession to make. Sometimes it completely disempowers me. Before I recount the lesson. I do like pornography. but it is true. it drains my energy. In fact.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. it is my genes. I don’t really like it because. Actually that is not entirely accurate. So I don’t watch it anymore. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. I don’t entertain it at all. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. But I don’t judge it either. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t read it. well. I haven’t for many years. like all addictions.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. 104 . I want to be strong and I want to be free. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. pornography and people pleasing. some people have them all. Most people are infected with at least one of these. all our wealth is locked into our addictions. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. alcohol. you closed the door to all your addictions. The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. gambling. For me. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self).

mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. Like any drug you indulge. Like most people. often dangerous. When you find yourself doing things against your own will. you have to start asking yourself a few questions.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by. The question I asked myself was. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore.

I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. but deep down we know that really we can’t. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. The urge came on. others their liberty. their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. This is not a metaphor. I indulged it. many their lives. And weak. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. It is a true story.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions. So I put down the empty glass. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. I felt shit afterwards. When I opened my eyes 106 . Many famous folks have ruined their careers. Some lost their jobs. It had become a habitual cycle. And this is where the wasp comes in. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. It needed to be stopped.

When he returned the third time he was more confident. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. It landed briefly on the glass. had a look around. each time staying a little longer. flew off. He was still being careful. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. when he was ready. took several globs of juice and. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. I got the message. I never indulged my addiction again.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. 107 . landed. Arrogant now. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. he hovered. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. each time more confident. Until the final time. He flew straight into the glass. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108

THE POWER OF BOOKS

the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109

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One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

can feel insecure. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. But in his book he said. makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days. Geoff. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. ‘Listen.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. can feel like giving it all up. ‘we all feel insecure at times. The book cost eight pounds. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority.’ he tells me. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. a desperate sense of general failure. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. An ordinary person can reach the stars. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. Once you have acquired this 112 . you could. He has given me the secret to inner power. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could. That’s why books were invented. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. and we all could do exactly the same thing.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. These people have left their stories. That one single thing is ‘me. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. It’s not enough time really.

It’s so wonderful. If you make reading a habit. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. The biographies of great people are simply that. If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. learn the lessons and put them into action. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. It’s great. 113 . street maps to life.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps. read the stories.

He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. Directors do not talk. He wanted to direct so he directed.Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . they direct. I knew he was kidding himself. It was all he wanted to do. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed. He lived and breathed directing. Take Shane Meadows. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. All he did was talk. He did not direct his own films on the weekends. He was not a member of any film groups. He wasn’t directing.

It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. Writing is his life. Then (after the director. As soon as his money situation is better.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. he is going to invest in a course. the financers. the actors. He got a camera. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. Neither was it the time or the tides. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. He has 115 . That is what directors do. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him. I have a friend who wants to write. the designer. the producer. It was only the money that was holding him back. Writers do not talk a good script. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. he got his mates and he got busy making films. he said.

next week or next year. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream. the permission. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. It waits only for you. Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. with the best folks on the planet. He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. but because my friend does not really want them enough. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). They live and they breathe it. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. 116 . they find the money. The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. And this is not because any of these things are not possible. They create their own favour. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. the time. Martial artists train. whenever and wherever they can. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it.

Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. like the millions before.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. go and run. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. a red light for the majority. fate does not shape circumstance without action. Now is the time to act. GOOD. But nothing will move until you move. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. it does not exist. And if you are scared. Discomfort is good. Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. Sit and write. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. before you. Jump and a net will appear. make it real now. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. 117 . Set a deadline date to make your first film. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear.

There is… NO LAND ROVER. You are on selection for the SAS. Picture the scene. There is no Land Rover. ‘There is no Land Rover. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won.’ It keeps me sane. It keeps me on track. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon. ‘There is no Land Rover.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover.

Like a watery oasis in a dry desert. The Land Rover. They have been tricked. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. over hills and valleys. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. maybe some food and bed.’ So all the way around. have yourself a brew. Home. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. do not continue on. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. ‘How much further. You smile for the first time in days. When you ask him. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. working around strains and cuts and injuries. Jump in the back. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. ‘Until you see the Land Rover. You quicken your pace. 119 .’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says.’ Most people. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar. you’re home. at this point. past the graves of former aspirants. walking on blisters. take off your boots.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. There is no Land Rover. but only when you’ve got 120 . ‘There is no Land Rover. For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. sort of. Well. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. and not beyond. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain.’ And that becomes their mantra. a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). there is instant enlightenment. Regretfully. Not even a foot beyond. it does exist. the Land Rover does not exist. Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea.

THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. And that will remain my mantra. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill. and the tea in your hand. Until then there is no Land Rover. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming.’ When the film is on screen. Until then is it little more than a phantom. 121 .

‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston.’ I replied (a bit too defensively). Nick Park. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver. ‘Well yea. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right. still reeling from his unexpected response. half laughing. I assured myself that my 122 . I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back).Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call.’ he said halfscoffing. ‘Oh. I had to tell someone. It’s what you do when providence lights your day. I see.

When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. giant-slaying industry. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester.S. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. you know. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was. or any others. Criticism. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. They called him insane. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity. When the painter L. neither would I be the last. too. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. hold me back.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. and I should never let him.

I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream. ‘There must be more to life than this.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision. but also perhaps because of them. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work.’ He laughed at me. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret).’ 124 . ‘This is your lot. he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do). I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. He became global. ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. nails full of shit – and said to him. ‘you should be grateful.’ Seeking answers. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. This is a job for life. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans. and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us. Lowry had the last laugh. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. not only in spite of his detractors.’ he said.

be whomever I want. All the things I wanted to do. 125 .’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. And I am still doing them. things I was told I could not – I did.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. I can do anything. We all can. And look what happened to him. And more. And for those that laugh at my dreams. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. It was like a dry slap across the gob. never to return. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. This is my life. watch out! They laughed at Lowry. What he said next – not just the words. go anywhere.

but if you haven’t. far from it. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time. In fact. after six months of sitting on the throne writing. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum.’ Invariably. or you harbour any doubts or fears. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller. their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way.Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. then lack 126 .

whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. multi-million. I was fully committed to writing it. hey.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. Pelé. I found the time. And. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. Many a thriving. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. He 127 . But by the same count. at some point in your development. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. elbow-greased tools.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. I wanted desperately to write a book. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. arguably the greatest football player of all time.

but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. my driving force. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. they never actually write it in the first place. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. My only incentive. Or even worse. I had no time.

I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . Really! In my experience. My want was always greater than my lack. time can be cruel. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. if ever. it can be stretched. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. But as I said. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. make the grade.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). never to be seen again. if we fail to use it profitably. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead. And I know how hard it can be. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. I did desperately want to write. minute and hour in the present. We immortalise our time when we invest every second. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day. it accommodates committed souls. Paradoxically. those searching for the grail of achievement. time is very malleable. it will be gone forever.

They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. Now I make a commitment. nothing will stop you. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen. nothing will get in your way. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. For many reasons. I was once one of them. If you want something enough. 130 .

Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance. I went for a walk in the 131 . I do hope so. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. You feel sort of needlessly tortured. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. In that dark void.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. Nature has many lessons. But today nature was not forthcoming. Then I intuited something else. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. as a consequence. something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. Immediately after the fall. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. Until. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. Nothing I observed offered any solace. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. I liked this observation. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 . that is. It had been raining heavily all week and. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil.

WATERFALL

be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.

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Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . pronto. see. I find. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. the time is never quite right. Now that I have depressed you. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. Scary. here’s the good news. as quick as your little legs will carry you. The novel that you want to write. your mind’s-eye dreamjob. It needs to be brought forward and done now. this minute. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. We already know how the story ends. The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. there isn’t a tomorrow. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. We get to choose the meat of the story. Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. all those plans that you have on the back burner. It’s official. in a hurry. So. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. you know. We’re dying.

Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course. Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. Fit as much into the short time there as you can.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Fill your bowl. 137 . We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. Tomorrow is just another version of now. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’.’ Life is like that small salad bowl. we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry. They just know that they only have one shot at it. Your time. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. It doesn’t even exist. They’re not greedy. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply.

We all have the same amount of minutes. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. Give it up and be a painter. how we invest it. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. while the inspiration is high. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. It’s just what we do with our time. it never arrives. whatever. We wait. There is no time like the present. a writer. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. this minute. a tobogganist. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. And now is the time. not tomorrow. that determines where our lives may lead. the right time never arrives. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. She’s stood us up. you’ll have achieved so 138 .

He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 . Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph. Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album.WE ARE ALL DYING much. crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm.

He was living without a purpose. Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. My friend had once courted high aspirations. It is easily done. He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it. Not that he’d never had a purpose.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. treading the world stage with the greats. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 .

In colloquial speak. my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity.’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself). ‘Poor me. ‘It’s all bollocks.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. work that he thought might make ‘a great career. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do. In the whole scope of things none of this is important.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email.’ 141 . I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. look at what a failure I am. I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. or what is expected of him.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. Forget what others want and expect and demand.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. I have friends on six. Forget expectation. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. Forget what you think and are told is impossible. forget the government. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him. Forget responsibilities. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free. Forget society. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. I tell you. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. I tell them they are wrong. Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . No more and no less. Forget income.

the feel – it was almost miraculous. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. It was a cup of tea! The taste. It was my job to train for a living. And I did train. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. rich poets. the texture. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life. Only that it was possible. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. and certainly the most difficult 143 . Similarly.’ To which I usually reply. It is not that easy. wealthy martial artists. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers.’ Of course it’s difficult. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor. the smell. ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. And anyway. I’ve got people relying on me.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay.

walk under it or over it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. hard-done-by or elbowed out. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. had it easy. It is the prerequisite to success. as we all know. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. 144 . How noble. So hard is where it is at. knew someone on the inside (because. And what a heap of horseshit. End of story. They wine because they feel overlooked. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. I was a changed man. undervalued. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. ‘it’s who you know’). All those who walk around it. If you are good enough you make it.

global. give yourself an honest check-up. He also wanted to be the best at something. This is important. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 .’ She looked at him and said said to me. though he was unsure of what that something might be. He had lost his purpose. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. I remember looking at one of my friends. I would say that four elements need to be in place. a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why.’ She was so right. ‘He thinks he is world class already. I said to Sharon. He was asking for my advice. world class. He wanted to find it again. To be the very best though. ‘This guy has got so much potential. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. He could be world class. I can’t work out what is holding him back. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend.

3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 . usually the kind of search that goes in and not out. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter. a search is in order.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. This needs to be someone that you trust. son.’ he said.’ His dad looked at him and said. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. it’ll find you when you are ready. they can’t always work out what. you have to make sure the second element is in place. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. From my experience. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. ‘Dad. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. If your purpose is not clear.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it.

watching it. eventually. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. feeling it. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . talking it (but not too much talking). smelling it. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. It is about reading it. maybe you feel too old. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. supping it through the froth of your beer. if you want to aim high. And talking doesn’t make a champion. And walk. seeing it. Once you have your four elements in place. too young. They talk. what you do needs to be something that. hearing it. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. eating it with your breakfast.’ And walk. the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. writing it. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. If you are not sure that you can. it is about making that talk ‘walk. despite all the elements. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. 4) Ironically.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at.

Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. stop talking and start doing. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. Don’t let it down. 148 . pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. ‘Hey. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. Beware. If this is a time of confusion for you. a time of struggle. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. you can say. If you want to be the best. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. But that’s good.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread.

I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. It might help to know that you are not alone.Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible. ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments). My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt. They just 149 . ‘And even if it is.’ they say to me. often even after major successes.

His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. It took me a long time to believe in myself. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting. and even use his fears as a fuel. A plethora of folks can 150 . This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog. Loads of people have the facts.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do.’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. the easier it gets. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear. but perhaps because of it.

write anyway. put-downs. criticism.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. So to be a writer just keep writing.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. knockbacks. Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again. All the gold is in the pain. Expect trepidation. books to novels. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. novels to films or films to 151 . Expect discomfort. depression. despair and the occasional failure. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. Expect the fear. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. Salinger never published again. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. set-backs. It is not the art of knowing. it is the pre-requisite. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. it is the art of doing.

To get the gold. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. sailor – more than the norm. but it is not. 152 . soldier. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. martial artist. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. tinker. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. They liked you as you were and where you were. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. tailor.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. Close friends. you have to get past the fear. nothing is.

If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . I love it. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out. We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. I do. I think it’s long overdue.Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat.

Information is a literal food for the brain. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. performance improved. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. the mainstay being information. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. it is cerebral food. Thinking comes through and from the brain. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. This is not a statement of metaphor. But even with my food in place there was still something missing. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. health was up. Healthy eating improves thinking no end. It was at this point I had a great realisation. it relies upon it for growth. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. Don’t get me wrong. Energy was up. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 .

admire and mimic. and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. read. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. hang out with. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air. marry. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . Even your environment feeds your brain. listen to on the radio. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them.

get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. The good results only last as long as the good information.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. you only get the one set). If you have the foresight and the courage. Your environment and influences. I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. Like physical diet. Like physical diet. Good news first. Here’s the good news and the bad news. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. Stop pretending that 156 . If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. Equally. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. cerebral diet can be changed. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. Bad news. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent.

You are what you ingest.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are. 157 . So ingest what you want to be.

The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9. no matter what it does. . that you would never be able to go it alone in business. No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’. it believes that it cannot escape. and eventually.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. Ultimately.

How to practise the art of personal transformation. success is always a choice .99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky. now a martial arts expert.That with the right strategy and approach. In Shape Shifter. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field. The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. you will learn: .That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species . knows this better than most. screenwriter. the first self-help guide of its kind.Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7. step by step .

www.geoffthompson.com .summersdale.com www.

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